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Eye On Boise

Senate Dems: Session ‘worst in memory’

Senate Democrats hold a press conference Wednesday and call this year's legislative session the
Senate Democrats hold a press conference Wednesday and call this year's legislative session the "worst in memory." (Betsy Russell)

Senate Democrats held a press conference just now to reflect on this year's legislative session, which they called the "worst in memoray" and said was dominated by "an off-shoot of the Republican party" that put ideology ahead of the state's best interest. "If there's one thing this session ... probably did accomplish, it was to illustrate very boldly to the people of Idaho what they got out of the last election," said Sen. Elliot Werk, D-Boise. "If the people of Idaho are paying any attention, maybe they'll decide that they've had enough."

Sen. Les Bock, D-Boise, said, "I'll tell ya, any party that sponsors legislation to put guns on campus, who essentially equates the affordable health care act to Adolph Hitler, that is a party that does not deserve to be in power." Sen. Nicole LeFavour, D-Boise, said, "This current Republican Party is not the one that's represented many independents and moderate Republicans for many years. ... We hope they'll join us."

Democrats hold just seven seats in the 35-member Senate; they contended that the policies the majority pushed this year, from school reform to Medicaid cuts, will hurt Idaho's economy by eliminating both public- and private-sector jobs. LeFavour said, "This particular Legislature was so preoccupied with ... battling each other on fringe issues that they didn't pay attention to the economy." Click below to read the Senate Democrats' full statement on the session.

For immediate release - Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Senate Democrats Call 2011 Legislative Session Worst in Memory

Boise – Idaho’s Democratic Senators are calling the almost-concluded 2011 Session the worst in their collective memories and blame this on the shifting of the Republican Party to the far right and on special interests guiding too much public policy, now including K-12 education.

“The movement to the far right by many in the Statehouse has eroded reasonable discourse and suppressed the voices of average Idahoans,” said Senator Les Bock, Assistant Minority Leader.  “Closing primary elections will aggravate this trend toward party purification until the GOP is represented by only the most ideological candidates.”

Senator Edgar Malepeai, Minority Leader, said, “This was the toughest session in my nine years in office and I am dismayed by the outcome in terms of both legislation passed and legislation refused consideration.”  “Moderate, independent views were often ignored which, at a time when recent polling points to a rise among those who identify themselves as such, means too many of our citizens may be lacking proper representation.”

There was an unprecedented level of citizen involvement in the legislative process this year but these views were consistently ignored by the majority party which feels authorized to act unilaterally when making laws that impact so many.  From education to Medicaid cuts to measures targeting Idaho’s middle class, our constituents are not satisfied with the direction the state is heading.

“We have heard from the sponsors of the Otter/Luna education overhaul that there is a ‘silent majority’ who support this proposal and only a vocal minority who stood in opposition,” said Minority Caucus Chair Michelle Stennett.  “If anyone knows what a minority looks like, it would be us, and calling the groundswell of opposition a minority shows a disdain for the democratic process.”

As the Republican party demonstrates an unwillingness to focus on the critical issues facing the state, Democrats welcome moderate Republicans and Independents not only into our Primary Elections, but into the Democratic party to once again build a powerful voice of opposition to create better balance and better policy for Idaho’s schools, communities, economy and families.

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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